Yesterday, the NFL announced that the Los Angeles Chargers had a league-leading seven players named to the 2019 Pro Bowl.
One of those to make it is Adrian Phillips. The honor is the first of Phillips' five-year career as he was named a starter on special teams for the AFC.
The safety is one of the most popular players in the locker room as everyone respects his work ethic and unique path to the NFL. That includes Philip Rivers, who was excited to learn of Phillips' selection.
"A guy like Adrian Phillips (making the Pro Bowl) stands out," Rivers said. "He's a guy that, from day one, followed Eric Weddle around everywhere he went just to learn everything he could learn and then turned himself into a 50-snap a game defensive guy for us. Then, he gets recognized around the league, especially on special teams. Fans (don't know) how that's all shaking out with special teams tackles and all that, but when the other teams are noticing you, that says a lot about him. I'm fired up for him."
Phillips' road to where he is now hasn't been easy. The former undrafted rookie free agent out of Texas signed with the Chargers roughly two months after the 2014 NFL Draft. From there, he bounced around from the practice squad to the active roster to get to where he is today.
A true a jack-of-all-trades playing defense and special teams, his "elite" football IQ has helped him amass 58 total tackles, an interception and eight passes defensed on defense this season. Additionally, he currently leads the NFL with 15 total tackles in the third phase of football this year.
Phillips admits he was truly surprised when he found out he made the Pro Bowl, especially because he wasn't on the initial fan ballot. But his surprise then turned to appreciation as he recalled a conversation he had with his wife during the offseason.
"It means everything that I've been working for is finally coming into fruition," Phillips said. "My wife and I were walking our dog in the offseason and every year I make goals that I want to accomplish for the season and one of my goals was to be a Pro Bowler/All Pro on special teams. I completed one half of that goal already and there's still more to be done. But it means everything. It's a lot of motivation and it just means to really believe in what you're doing and speak it into existence."
But like Phillips speaking it into existence, Chargers Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley believes him making the Pro Bowl only affirms the hard work he's put into his craft. Not to mention, the time he's spent with some of the younger guys on the roster to help them improve.
"His story is unbelievable," Bradley remarked. "We always talked in terms of when you give, the basic premise is you receive twofold. That's what he did. When Derwin James came in, (Phillips) was one of those guys that went into the film room when we met with him and spent hours with him going through some things. Here's a guy where at times, they were playing the same position. So, for AP to give that much time to help a younger player his first year in the league, and then to see this happen, I mean, what a great story for us to say, 'See, that's how it works.' When you give with no intent to receive, it comes back twofold. That's why I think the story is so cool for AP. He's an unbelievable teammate. Unbelievable as far as the guy that you'd love to coach, and he's been very effective and a very good player for us."